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Posted December 2, 2009
I'm going to start off saying that I really wanted to find something positive to say about this book but honestly I can't. What didn't I like about this story? Though I've never been a fan of child abuse and/or mental illness stories it wasn't the fact that Listen was darker than the average young adult novel I've read. It was the fact that there was so much going on that it actually felt manic. There was the aforementioned child abuse and mental illness but I'll also add in animal abuse, abandonment, drug & alcohol abuse and multiple instances of criminal activity for good measure. I mean I know that generally speaking, in real life, most times all of the above go hand in hand but man oh man it was a lot to read in a short book of just over two hundred pages.
Now maybe that was the point, maybe the reader was supposed to feel that nervous high strung feeling the characters were but really I didn't like it. I would have much rather have seen an in depth story about one of the characters compared to skimming the surface of three. Again, it was just way too much.
At times, I struggled with the need for Will in this story. The relationship between Carrie and Kurt made sense, but Will, he was clearly there more for progression of their story than anything else. Making him a victim of abuse didn't add to the story at all in fact it just made it one more thing on top of all the rest. In fact, I honestly found myself confusing Kurt and Will's stories at times because they were so similar.
As it relates to the above, I believe part of the reason I struggled with confusion of these two characters is that for a good portion of the book all three stories were jumping back and forth. We'd get several pages of Will then several of Kurt then Carrie. It was very disjointed and many times the transitions were so abrupt I was left wondering why we stopped the one story to go to the other. Admittedly it seemed that once the story got to a crescendo and the three characters were interacting in real time in the same scenes I was able to better transition and follow what was going on.
Finally, one last obstacle I struggled to navigate was the fact that the story was extremely depressing. There were no light hearted moments at all, which makes sense given the subject matter I suppose, but honestly for me I need that break here and there. I need something to keep me hopeful that in the end it will all be alright. The small attempt at doing so (Will's desire to be Claire's boyfriend) fell flat for me and was honestly more of an attempt to tie Will in with Carrie's story. It did so effectively I guess but still, I would have enjoyed something uplifting and remotely happy somewhere.
In the end, I imagine the author was trying to paint a realistic picture of how mental illness and abuse affects not only the lives of those who carry it with them but also those around them. In that regard I do think the story was in a way successful. I certainly felt anxiety and stress and discomfort I imagine that family and friends of sufferers must endure on a daily basis.
Posted April 6, 2010
No text was provided for this review.